Family Letters Reveal Story Of Farm Life In Wisconsin Over 20th Century


By Erika Janik | January 27, 2016

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In the mid-1990s, Sara DeLuca received gift of letters from her aunt Margaret. The letters, written by the women in her mother’s family, told of their life from the 1920s through the 1990s. Many of the letters were from DeLuca’s mother, Helen, writing to her eldest sister Margaret beginning when she was seven and continuing through middle age. 

DeLuca’s aunt Margaret left her family’s rural Wisconsin farm to work in Minneapolis in 1923. Margaret’s mother wrote regularly with updates about daily activities on the farm, from laundry, plowing, and planting, to harvesting the crops. Sometimes she enclosed a note from seven- year- old Helen, who reported on school and how she longed to see her big sister again.

Twenty years after she received the letters, DeLuca began weaving them together into a story of both her family and of farm life in the region. The result is a book, “The Crops Look Good: News From A Midwestern Family Farm.” Together, the letters tell a chronological tale, through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, and the eventual decline of the family farm. DeLuca even found letters from her mother describing being pregnant with DeLuca and her twin sister and descriptions of herself as a young girl. 

The way of life chronicled and remembered by DeLuca and her family has all but disappeared but the basic human emotions and life experiences remain constant.

 

Sara DeLuca is a poet, writer, and the author of The Crops Look Good: News From A Midwestern Family Farm.

Erika Janik

Erika Janik spins multiple “Wisconsin Life”-related plates as she acquires, edits, records, and mixes radio stories for broadcast — all while searching for new roadside attractions, hiking trails  and local beer to explore.  She is the author of five books including “Apple: A Global History“, and most recently “Marketplace of the Marvelous:...
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2018-01-19T17:52:49+00:00 Tags: , , , , , , |

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